Coins are critical in the formation of a nation’s history. Numismatics is the study of coins. Coins aid in reconstructing the people’s economic lives, trade and commerce, religion, and metallurgy, among other things. Coins in Odisha can be classified as punch-marked, Puri-Kushana, Gupta gold, Nala and Sarbhapuriya, Srinanda, Kalachuri, and Nagas, Ganga fanams, and possibly Gajapati Pagoda.
The earliest coins found in Odisha are punch-marked coins from the fourth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D. These coins were plentiful in coastal eastern Odisha. These coins were made of silver and copper and were shaped and sized irregularly. These coins featured punched images of the sun, animals, birds, trees, and humans, as well as geometrical designs. These coins may very well provide insight into Odisha’s ancient economy.
Coins of Puri-Kushana
Kushana coins and their imitations, dubbed Puri-Kushana coins, have been discovered in large quantities scattered throughout Odisha, from Mayurbhanj to Ganjam. These coins circulated in Odisha for approximately three centuries during the Christian era.
Coins of the Gupta
Samudragupta’s occupation of some parts of Odisha brought Odisha into contact with the Gupta empire. Gold coins of the Gupta archer type have been discovered in Bhanapur, Khiching, and Angul. These coins demonstrate that Odisha’s trade and commerce were undoubtedly associated with the Gupta empire.
The Nala coins of Odisha’s western region
The Nala coins found in western Odisha shed light on the 5th-6th century AD Nala rule in South Kosala. The unique feature of these Nala coins is that the reverse is blank, while the obverse depicts a humped bull with a crescent and the king’s name in box headed script. The Nala coins have aided in the reconstruction of the Nalas’ history. Even now, Nalas coins continue to be discovered on a regular basis.
Other significant Odisha coins
Apart from the coins mentioned above, we have discovered numerous other coins that have shaped Odisha’s history. The gold coins of the Sarbhapuriyas have been instrumental in reconstructing the dynasty’s history. The coins of Prasannamatra, Mahendraditya, and Kramaditya aid significantly in reconstructing the dynasty’s genealogy and chronology. The discovery of these coins in Chatishgarh, western Odisha, and Cuttack indicates that a trade route existed between Chhatisgarh and Cuttack via western Odisha. The Srinanda coins were discovered in Soro. He ruled the Chhatisgarh region in the sixth century AD.
A Somavamsi gold coin (dating from the ninth to eleventh centuries AD.) bearing the image of GajaLaxmi was discovered in Junagarh. The Kalachuris (10th-14th centuries AD.) of Western Odisha minted a variety of coins in gold, silver, and copper. These coins were discovered in the Sonepur, Khurda, and Jonk river valleys and contain information about Ratnadeva, Prithvideva, and Gangeyadeva. Gold coins were also issued by Chhindika Nagas (Bastar-Koraput region). They ruled over Sonepur in the 12th century AD, as evidenced by their coins. Additionally, the discovery of Padmatankas (coins depicting a lotus with eight petals at the centre) has given Odishan numismatics a new dimension. These coins are Jadavas from Devagiri. Their rule in Odisha, on the other hand, is in doubt.
Odishan coins underwent a transformation following the arrival of the Ganga rulers. The Ganga kings minted the small gold coins known as fanams. These fanams have been discovered in the districts of Angul, Cuttack, and Sonepur. These coins are influenced by South Indian culture. In Karnataka, some gold coins have been discovered. Additionally, these coins are referred to as Gajapati Pagoda. These coins circulated between the 13th and 15th centuries AD. Assigning these coins to the Suryvamsi Gajapati rulers is extremely difficult. However, the coins have been instrumental in reconstructing Odisha’s history.